Local Hero: Erin Parisi

On the tallest peaks there are no shadows.

For Erin Parisi, a transgender athlete from Denver, the lack of shadows is what draws her to the world’s highest peaks. “The trans community has long been marginalized. On the highest peaks there’s nothing that can cast a shadow on your life,” she says. Currently Parisi’s on a bid to become the first reported transgender climber to top out on all Seven Summits and has only Everest, Vinson Massif in Antarctica, and Denali to go before she does.

With support from REI and Merrell, Parisi is the executive director of TranSending (transending7.org), a nonprofit dedicated to promoting athletics as a platform of transgender awareness and inclusion.  She’s laser-focused on increasing the visibility of LGBTQ people in the outdoors, holding fundraisers, giving public talks, and coordinating partnerships with like-minded state and national organizations. 

While Parisi’s plans to climb Denali and Mt. Vinson have been delayed due to Covid-19, she continues to fundraise and train, often pulling a sled weighed down with jugs of water. “I’m leading by example to show that trans people have a place in the outdoors,” she says. “We will boldly proclaim, from the highest point on every continent, that we are proud, able, and will hide no longer.”

Photo courtesy Erin Parisi

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